6 tips for buying an ID card printer

Whatever business you’re in, it’s always important to have a good ID card security system in place that will work to keep you business, assets and employees safe and secure. With advances in technology there are now numerous options available when it comes to ID cards, which are often supplied by external service providers.

However, there is also the option of installing, maintaining and printing your own staff ID cards in-house, which can be a more cost effective and manageable method. Not least because it gives you complete control of the system and issuing cards, but having the facilities to conduct the process in-house will mean you can have almost instant issuing with a much lower cost margin. That being said, the process of buying an ID card printer isn’t as straightforward as you might initially think. Beyond the actual printer, there are a whole host of different considerations to bear in mind to ensure the printer is going to be a cost-worthy investment.

To give you a helping hand in weighing up the various factors, here are 6 buying tips for making a sound investment for the security and future of your organisation.

1. Volume – How many cards to you need to print per year?

One of the fundamental factors to consider when buying a business ID card printer is how many cards you will be required to print per year. Most printers, including ID card printers, will typically have a monthly duty cycle, which gives an average estimation of the print output capacity. Therefore you need to purchase an ID card printer that correlates to the volume of ID cards you intend on printing each year.

Naturally, these figures will vary depending on the size and nature of the business. For example, businesses with high staff turnover, regular contract employees, temporary staff or visitors, are likely to need a higher volume of ID cards per year. Therefore they will need an ID card printer with a greater print capacity. Choosing a printer with a lower duty cycle could potentially be a false economy, as it will burn out quicker resulting in repairs or complete replacement.

2. Reliability

As with any piece of equipment you invest in as a business, it’s important it is reliable and remains in good working order when you need it. This goes to demonstrate that buying the right printer to suit your volume capacity is paramount. If you overload a printer that isn’t designed for printing high volumes, it is more likely to breakdown and be unreliable.

In addition choosing a reputable ID card printer brand that is known for reliability and exceptional print quality is likely to be a better long-term investment. A little research and professional advice form ID card printing experts can help you to decide on the most robust and reliable brands and models that have all the technical specifications you need for ID card printing.

3. Cost of Consumables

ID card printers can be an expensive outlay, but this is only part of the total cost of ownership (TCO). Printers are pretty much useless without the consumables such as printer ribbons, ID cards and cleaning kits that go with them. These consumables are the key components for function and help to maintain a good service life. 

When looking to invest in an ID card printer, it’s vital to budget for the total cost of printing, which includes the printer, consumables and electricity. Quite often cheaper models of ID card printers will have more expensive consumables than more sophisticated models, so they can actually end up costing more. Plus if you’re looking to incorporate security features on your ID cards, the consumables will inevitably cost more.

Different printers use different amounts of electricity, which can bump up the cost of ownership considerably if you purchase one that guzzles energy.  Take the time to work out a rough TCO figure on an annual basis that includes the cost of consumables and electricity to gain a better view of what it will cost you as a business.

4. Size

As with most things, size matters; and in most businesses floor and desk space is premium real estate. Printers are invariably bulky pieces of equipment that can take up a lot of space, therefore the size of your ID card printer should always be a consideration.

With a number of different features, functions and capacities the size of ID printers can vary widely. To ensure your printer isn’t too big for the intended space, measure the space you intend to house the ID card printer and calculate the maximum size printer you can accommodate comfortably.

5. Security Features

Modern ID cards and ID card printers are awash with technology and security ID passes now go way beyond a simple photo and name. There are various additional security features that can be printed onto ID cards using a standard in-house ID card printer and the right consumables. When buying your printer, think about the level of security you need for your business and the types of security features that would be most suitable. 

With modern ID card printers and cards you can add an encoded magnetic stripe, smart chip, Security Holokote overlay, Micro text, Holographic foils and more that will all help to improve your business security and make your ID cards less easy to counterfeit or duplicate.

6. Printer Speed

Finally, you should also take printer speed into account. As you’d imagine, choosing an entry level ID card printer is likely to have a lower print speed than a state-of-the-art model; therefore if you need your ID cards to be printed quickly then opting for a higher-tech model with a quicker print speed is going to be the best option.

However, the print speed will also depend on the level of detail on the design and any additional security features on the cards. Naturally, the more complex the design and more security features, the slower the print speed will be. Thus, if you do need high-level security features and quick printing, you’ll need to invest in the quickest and most efficient model, rather than entry level.

ID security cards are a highly effective way of enhancing security within your business, but if you are planning on investing in an ID card printer, make sure you look beyond the price tag of the printer itself to ensure you make a good business investment.

Adam Bennett, Digital Marketing Manager, Digital ID